Sometimes things don’t go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures from the road.
Unfortunately, since losing her more than an hour ago, I have yet to find my fiancée, Marina. That’s what I get for Googling “weird things to do in NYC.”
On a whim, we had purchased tickets for Sleep No More, an immersive theatre production based loosely on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The show involves some 20 actors and takes place throughout five floors of a fictional 1940s hotel named the McKittrick, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea district. Sleep No More is equal parts theatre, haunted house and burlesque show.
The night started innocently enough, as Marina and I were enjoying a drink at the hotel’s smoky Manderley Bar. Before long, we were summoned to receive our masks and then herded into a deep dark elevator with several people.
“As guests of the McKittrick hotel, you should be aware of a few rules,” the elevator operator began. “Your mask must stay on at all times. There is absolutely no talking. Most importantly, there is no hand holding.”
Marina squeezes my hand. The elevator lurches to a stop and the door opens to a dark hall.
With a menacing tone the bellhop offers his final piece of advice: “Remember, fortune favours the bold.”
Just as Marina steps off the elevator ahead of me, the bellhop extends his arm and blocks my exit. The door closes between us. As soon as I am set free on another floor, I search for a staircase to access the floors below and find Marina.
Instead, I come across an unmasked young woman with strawberry blonde hair dancing in an empty ballroom. A single spotlight illuminates her flowing movement, while a soft stringed melody provides a soundtrack.
I pause and watch the performance. Without warning, the music cuts out.
The woman abruptly ceases dancing and runs into the darkness. Instinctively, I follow, chasing her through the hall, down a set of stairs, and into what appears to be a luxurious hotel suite.
Suddenly she stops, turns and looks directly into my eyes with an unnerving intensity. Feeling somehow protected behind my mask, I stand still. Without breaking eye contact, she approaches me slowly, leans in and kisses me softly on the neck.
Then she bolts again.
I stand paralyzed trying to catch my breath. I remember I’m supposed to be looking for Marina when a big-band melody shakes me from my reverie.
Over the next few hours, as the protagonist in my very own Choose Your Adventure, I witness bar fights, ballroom dancing and spousal abuse. I play piano, play doctor and observe a healthy dose of nudity in and around the abundant bathtubs in the hotel.
Marina and I finally find each other, while standing inches from a bathtub in which a fully naked and blood-covered Macbeth was being washed by his wife.
In the taxi back to our hotel, we shed our sweaty masks and chatter excitedly about the night. It might be 2:45 a.m., but sleep is the last thing on our mind.
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